Charles Wilson III, a senior airman at Robins Air Force Base, was found not guilty Thursday of felony murder and aggravated arson in the death of a friend in an alleged insurance fraud scheme.
Wilson, 28, was accused of conspiring with Demetrius and Infini Hardy to burn down his rented Warner Robins home on Oct. 2, 2011, for $40,000 in insurance money on his belongings.
Demetrius Hardy, 27, died several days later at an Augusta burn center from injuries sustained from an explosion during the fire.
The military jury, a court-martial panel, also found Wilson not guilty of conspiracy, burning with intent to defraud and obstruction of justice.
Infini Hardy, 36, was indicted Oct. 8, 2013, by a Houston County grand jury on two counts of arson and one count of burglary in the fire. She is free on a $10,000 bond pending trial.
Wilson’s defense at trial was that Infini Hardy only implicated Wilson two years after the fire when she was indicted and faced incarceration and losing her three children to foster care upon conviction.
The jury reached its decision after deliberating a total of 14 1/2 hours over three days. Jurors asked for a replay of Infini Hardy’s testimony Thursday while they were deliberating.
Hardy originally told authorities she had dropped her husband off at 2:30 a.m. to play video games at Wilson’s home at 105 Spruce St. in Warner Robins and returned after seeing the fire. She took her husband, who was seen by neighbors running from the home in flames, to Houston Medical Center. He was airlifted to a burn facility in Augusta.
She testified during the trial that she originally lied to the hospital staff, civilian and military police and her husband’s parents to protect herself, her husband and Wilson.
But Wilson’s defense lawyers argued that she was only protecting herself and that she and her husband burglarized the home and set the fire to cover their tracks.
Hardy testified that she, dressed in all black, drove her husband to Wilson’s home and parked in some bushes at a park on nearby Oak Street. She was dressed all in black. Meanwhile, her husband carried a backpack and a can of gasoline to the home, she said. She testified that the backpack was to take belongings Wilson no longer wanted, but Wilson’s defense team argued the backpack was for the burglary and that Wilson had nothing to do with the Hardys’ scheme to burglarize and torch his home.
Wilson was at a Macon residence when the fire broke out.
The trial was the first of three courts-martial proceedings against Wilson being held at the Houston County Courthouse in Perry.
The second, scheduled to begin next week, involves the alleged assault of a retired female technical sergeant by Wilson in July 2012. In the third proceeding, Wilson is charged with the Aug. 29, 2013, premeditated murder of his fiancée, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she was fatally shot in her Dawson home.